A Case against Relying Solely on Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Technology to Identify Proposed Targets

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

In the past-15 years, States have increasingly placed a greater reliance on
intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technology to identify potential targets on the battlefield and to verify, at the point of executing the attack, whether the target is in fact a military objective, a combatant or an individual who is taking a direct part in hostilities. This article critically analyses in what circumstances and for what type of targets attackers should not solely rely on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technology in order to comply with the principle of distinction. The use of technology may adversely affect accurate identification of some types of targets because it may influence what type of intelligence an attacker decides to gather, how he carries out target verification and how he interprets the situation on the battlefield. The use of technology frequently does not enable attackers to correctly interpret the context behind the events on the battlefield. This results in attackers having an incomplete understanding of what is happening on the battlefield. In contrast, when attackers visually check the character of the proposed target, they gain a fuller understanding about the situation on the ground and are in a better position to comply with the principle of distinction. Additionally, it is considered whether this problem is equally applicable to emerging intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technologies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-449
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Conflict & Security Law
Volume20
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes

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